As a part of the continuing municipal election series, Vanessa Hawkins speaks to Florissant Patch about her plans and her campaign for a seat on the Ferguson-Florissant School Board.
Florissant Patch: What's your educational background?
Vanessa Hawkins: Being educated in the public schools of Dumas, AK, I have a great deal of respect for public school education. It has served me well in preparation for attending the School of Engineering at Washington University where I completed a B.S. in Computer Science. I am also currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity degree at Covenant Theological Seminary.
I spent 10 years in the field of Engineering and Computer Science in corporate settings including Monsanto World Headquarters – Agricultural Engineering Department and Enterprise Rent-A-Car Corporate Offices - Project Management. My passion is to see my own children well educated, which led me to leave a lucrative career in an effort to pour knowledge and a love for learning into my children as a home educator for seven years. This passion now spills over into the schools as I serve and have served as a volunteer in classrooms, PTG president and as the Parent Advisory Committee member. Due to the inordinate amount of hours I volunteer in the classroom, I was approached about becoming an aid so that I could at least receive pay for the hours I spend helping children. My response was then as it is today: “I do not work in our schools to receive monetary pay. I work to equip our future.”
Florissant Patch: Do you have any children?
Hawkins: My husband of 14 years, Marcus and I are the parents of three wonderful girls Kayla, 10, Sydney, 8, and Chelsey, 6.
Florissant Patch: What issues are important to the Ferguson-Florissant School Board?
Hawkins: The issues that I have observed to be important to the school board include being stewards over curriculum, instruction and business services and highlighting positive events in the district.
Florissant Patch: What issues are important for the district as a whole?
Hawkins: The issues that are important for the district as a whole include, securing a smooth transition for the district as we change leadership in the upcoming school year; maintaining our accreditation and working to become accredited with distinction; bridging the gap in achievement levels among our students and empowering each child to excel.
Florissant Patch: Why did you decide to run/re-run for the school board?
Hawkins: People run for public office for a lot of reasons. Some run because they are angry at the current administration or have an axe to grind with the district. Some simply seek a springboard to greater political aspiration. I believe that there is no greater cause than our children. I have no other agenda. I am committed to seeing all children educated well – nothing more.
I believe that running off of anger alone quickly loses its usefulness if it is not being fueled by a passion to make the district better. Our district does not need venomous personalities but those who will work to unite and harness the resources of those in the district for the good of our children. If with each decision we ask, ‘what is best for the children?’ we cannot go wrong. I am committed to doing just that.
Florissant Patch: Do you have a message to voters?
Hawkins: We are at a pivotal point in the life of our school district. We have a new superintendent being seated in the upcoming year who will inherit many successes along with many challenges. It is imperative now more than ever that these challenges are met with a school board who is forward-thinking, wise in their dealings and committed to consistently making decisions that put our children in the very best position to succeed and excel. I have been committed to this effort as a parent advisor to the district, as a volunteer and support in the classroom to our teachers and students, and would now love the opportunity to expand my scope and serve our district as a member of the school board.